Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Dr J M Wober and Professor R Giddings


  1.1  the nation still needs to regulate NTT over the next decade

  1.2  the public needs to understand and feel more a part of the regulatory process.


2.   The BBC's Governance

  2.1  The BBC's Governors should be a body conspicuously outside of and not run by the BBC—to belong to the Public, rather than to the BBC

  2.2  The BBC's Governors should have their own Secretariat providing them the most sophisticated current performance research (audience size and appreciation)

  2.3  The BBC's Governors should continue to generate and/or keep in touch with academically generated research on effects of broadcasting.

3.   Governance of Related Channels

  3.1  The Regulation of Advertising Funded Channels should reflect that of the BBC's Governors in having the characteristics of being:

  3.2  independent of the institutions being regulated

  3.3  expert in the culture of the institutions being regulated

  3.4  informed with current performance, and with long-term effects research.

4.   To Connect The Public With the System of Regulation

  4.1  Both the Governors and the Regulators should be funded from (a small part of) the Licence Revenue

  4.2  The Public should have access both to regular performance and to ad hoc effects research results

  4.2a  Funding the Regulators from the Licence Revenue will SHOW the public that it is itself supporting the Regulation done in its name and for its sake

  4.2b  To provide the information essential in this process of accessible regulation

  4.3  routine, and special research results (new and ongoing) should be available on a web site

  4.4  a visitor's library, housing accessible archives under the guidance of skilled staff—and probably growing out of the existing ITC Library—should be set up and its uses encouraged for industry, for scholars, journalists and legislators.

Reasons for the above proposals

NTT is Still The Dominant Mode of Broadcasting

  5.1a  On average, over 1987-89 NTT was used by individuals for 3.63 hours per day

  On average, over 1997-99 NTT was used by individuals for 3.14 hours per day

  On average, into 2002—individuals still use NTT for around three hours a day

  5.2  during this time two "revolutions" had occurred: the arrival of VCR and the arrival of Cable/Statellite

  5.2  Viewing NTT has remained, and is likely to continue to remain a dominant norm, even across the coming Digital Revelution.

6.  Needs for Regulation of Network Terrestrial Television

  6.1  Potential "harms" of unregulated television services have"traditionally" included

    promotion of bad social behaviour* among a minority of viewers

    promotion of fear and anxiety among a majority of viewers

    promotion of self damaging behaviour among a minority of viewers

    a warped or biased provision of information for the society

    damage to the privacy of willingly screened participants, and to their "third parties"

    *includes personal aggression, sexism, racism, homophobia

  6.2  There has been no substantial new research to assure us that these dangers have gone away, within a new ecosystem of diversified screen services, in which regulation has been reduced or abandoned.

7.   Regulated Domestic Screen Services Constitute Public Service Television

  Public Service Television includes both BBC and Independent Channels and their regulation has always been and should continue to be interactive and interdependent.

8.   Some Defects of The Present System of Regulation

  Defects of the Old System have included:

  8.1 BBC—identification of the "regulator" (the Governors) with the regulated, rather than with the beneficiary—the public

  —widespread confusion between the notion of a licence, and a commodity-fee

  8.2 "ITV"—insufficient knowledge about the regulator in itself, and even less of the interactive regulation of commercial and licence-funded services.

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Prepared 5 August 2002